Monday, October 11, 2010

It's that time again . . .

That's right.  It's Monday again.  Some people are surprised that it's Monday, but, in all honesty, how could you possibly be surprised?  Monday rolls around once a week.  I learned that in kindergarten.  I seem to remember a song that told us all about the days of the week.  Aside from the lingering hangovers and  questionable choices you made in that guy/girl from the other night, this is a Monday like all the rest.  The silver lining around this otherwise dour cloud is this:  you're here, reading this.  I'm not sure how that helps me, but I'm pretty sure you get some sense of enlightenment and/or absolute truth (yep, the same absolute truth that Plato believed) once you've finished reading this stuff.  If you don't . . .well, thanks for playing.  The wonderful folks here at The Steam Engine have some nice parting gifts for you.  I, on the other hand, will extend to you one courtesy and one courtesy only . . .my middle finger.

Yes, that's me.  Yes, there's beer in that cup and NO, I don't know how that crayon got there and since we're all becoming fast friends, I feel it necessary to divulge a few things about myself.  For example, I was born in Germany, on October 31.  I've had the privilege of living all over the world.  I went to a boarding school outside of London in a town called High Wycombe.  I detest white socks.  I have an incurable weakness for women with great legs and a witty sense of humor.  My taste in music is varied, to say the least.  As an example of that, I'll be discussing two bands this week: Gayngs and Gamble House.  One of the acts sandwiched in between those two bands in my library are these guys. Other things you will find in my musical library: Son House, John Coltrane, The Cure, The PoliceDeftonesSky DropsCircle Jerks and a whole lot more.

Well, let's get this show on the road, shall we . . .


Over the last week or so, I've listened to Relayted, the debut from Gayngs, over and over and over.  What initially attracted to me to this project was hearing that Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) was involved.  I'm a big fan of Bon Iver.  I'm not going to make a horrible attempt at being objective here, because what's the point.  I'm talking about music that I happen to like, so why not be up front about this stuff, right?  Anyway, as i listened through the album, I heard so many different sounds, so many layers that I was truly taken aback.  What was this sound?  This didn't sound like the Justin Vernon I was used to at all.  This was different.  This was just an album written in a shack somewhere, lonely and longing.  This was sexy.  This could play in a dimly lit room with someone for whom you had a major jones.  This, boys and girls, is the white, indie version of Barry White, complete with lush, layered harmonies, jazzed out horns and a rhythm that could be physically emulated.  This would be the result of a love child between Bon Iver and Portishead with a postman's Barry White contribution.  To say I was not expecting this would be a gross understatement and I had to find out more.

So I started digging for more info.  What I found was this: the "band" consists of 23 different musicians including, Justin Vernon, producer, Ryan Olson and various other Minneapolis based musicians.  To say that this is eclectic collection of musicians would be entirely accurate considering the sheer size of the band and the musical backgrounds of its members.  Relayted is eleven songs of pure bedroom mix.  All but one of the songs, "Faded" meanders through your ears at 69 beats per minute.  I'm not sure if there's something to be implied by that nugget of trivia, but considering the feel of the album, I'd say there is.  I was trying to explain the sound to someone recently and I really couldn't.  It's a hybrid of chill/r&b/soul and a few more styles that would just make the description redundant.  I could continue to beat this dead horse, but it's pointless.  Given a listen below and form your own opinions or download their Daytrotter Session and marvel at their gorgeous cover of Sade's "By Your Side."

Gamble House is basically the brain child of musician, Ben Becker.  It began with Becker just writing songs here and there, and when he had enough material, he began recording in his bedroom and various other studios.  All the initial instrumentation, multi-tracking, recording and re-recording were done by Becker and, after relocating, got together with a few friends and the result would become this album.  Like Gayngs, Gamble House crosses over into different genres like psychedelic folk, Americana and even has hints of 60's pop.  When I sent a sample to TSE, he immediately responded with a perfect comparison: Grizzly Bear.  After thinking about it for all of three seconds, I heard it, too.  I also heard a lot of the lush soundscapes you hear when you listen to Sufjan Stevens, Animal Collective and Fleet Foxes.  I would even go as far as saying that Gamble House have a spaced out, melodic sound that points you towards the infamous Beach Boys album, "Pet Sounds."  I dare you to listen to the layered vocals on "Bonny Doon" and disagree with me.

Gamble House is truly independent.  They are not signed to any label, so head over to their Bandcamp site.  You can listen to the entire album.  After you listen to it, BUY IT.  It's well worth it and we should all be happy to support amazing artists like these.

<a href="">Gamble House by Gamble House</a>